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Exploring Limuw: Strengthening Partnerships and Fostering Stewardship

Multiple CNNCTS partners gathered on the Chumash homelands of Limuw (Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park) for a day of learning and exploring possibilities for future collaborative events.

A group of people stand on a dock in front of a cliffside and rocky beach.

On May 13, 2024, partners of the Collaborative for Native Nations for Climate Transformation and Stewardship (CNNCTS) journeyed to the Chumash homelands of Limuw (also known as Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Park) to get acquainted with the island and to vision future collaborations. Attendees included representatives from the Native Coast Action Network, Acjachemen Tongva Land Conservancy, National Park Service, the Native American Land Conservancy, Tipey Joa Native Warriors, San Diego State University, and the Climate Science Alliance.

Limuw, the Chumash name for Santa Cruz Island, holds profound significance as the creation site of the Chumash people. With over 10,000 years of habitation, Limuw was once home to 10 villages that housed over 1,200 people. The island has another history following displacement of the Chumash people, including European settlement and ranching. Today, it is divided between The Nature Conservancy and the National Park Service, both dedicated to protecting and preserving its resources, which include over 60 endemic species. Chumash involvement in this modern island stewardship has been limited to date, and efforts like the ones being made during these partnerships are underway to increase participation, and elevate the Chumash voices and traditional knowledge of island stewardship.

Our day began on a calm, cloudy morning, as dolphins, pelicans, and juvenile humpback whales seemingly escorted us to the island. Upon arrival, we were thrilled to spot a bald eagle and be greeted by the endemic Island Scrub Jay. We spent time as a group discussing ideas and visioning collaborative opportunities with each other and potential future partners. Later, we split into smaller groups to explore the island while hiking and spending time on the rocky beaches. We learned more about the existing infrastructure and layout of the land, the history and current uses, and gained a deeper understanding of the special connections the Chumash people have with Limuw. We shared a meal together and returned to Ventura Harbor later that afternoon. In the evening, we had the opportunity to dine with a partner from UC Santa Barbara’s Natural Reserve System, whose reserve spans both sides of the island. This set the stage for further conversations and planning for our next visit.

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A humpback whale fluke in the water.
Photo by Megan Jennings


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